Sunday, March 7, 2010
Earthquakes, Avatar, and Environmentalism
If only nature behaved according to James Cameron's fantasy world in Avatar. If only we could get whatever we needed from nature when we needed it, and there would be no need for us to live anything other than a simple existence in touch with nature, and no need of matarialism or wealth.
Alas, the world we live in is not so benevolent. The reality around us is full of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, viruses, disease, all manner of poisonous plants and venomous animals.
Even worse, we aren't born with fangs or claws, or even a pelt of fur to keep us warm. The only tool we have to survive is our ability to reason: to build and improve and create wealth; to build shelter, to make tools, to create all the necessary things for basic survival and much more: music, art, entertainment, and athletics.
It's not politically correct to make the statement above, nor is it politically correct to say this: that the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile could not demonstrate more clearly the need for wealth and technology, and a society that values them.
How can I be so callous to make this comparison? Surely the people of Haiti didn't bring this earthquake on themselves. But do they bear any responsibility for their own fate? The 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile was 500 times more powerful, yet it was 200 times less deadly, than the one in Haiti, which measured a 7.0. How could this possibly be?
Many people say the building codes in Haiti are just not good enough. But what if the government of Haiti had enacted building codes a year before this earthquake? What about five years ago? Would it have made any difference? If that happened, I wonder if the people in the slums of Port-au-Prince would have picked themselves up, gone to the local Home Depot, and built a better roof for the tin shed they live in.
Of course not.
Building codes have nothing to do with it. It's the wealth necessary to follow the building codes that matters. Wealth is something Haiti, one of the most impoverished countries in the world, has very little of.
Environmentalism as a creed tells us that we need to live closer to nature; to be less materialistic; to live with less wealth, not more. This is why I believe hardcore environmentalism to be cruel. It is an a completely unfeeling, uncaring belief system that wishes us to live in squalor in the name of protecting mother earth from the unchecked success of humankind, instead of it's proper opposite: to protect humanity from the rages of an unchecked mother earth.
It isn't me who is cruel for identifying an oppressed, corrupt nation as the masters of it's own fate, even in the aftermath of a deadly natural disaster. It actually pains me to see a country live like this for so long, and have years to correct the problem, and watch as a natural disaster turns into a man-made disaster.
Environmentalism and any other similar belief that tends to eschew wealth and free markets are all cruel and unkind since they refuse to identify the true source of mass death and tragedy: dictatorship, corruption, and managed economies.
A strong economy with a free market at its root will foster success and happiness on a daily basis, but it also reduces human suffering in the event of natural disasters. That's right. Capitalism saves lives.